When founder Aaron Koch introduced Treehouse Chocolate, with its signature premium organic drinking chocolate, it wasn’t his first rodeo. He had already launched one successful chocolate company.
While operating that business, Aaron decided he wanted to dig deeper into cacao sourcing. When a friend invited him to move to Hawaii to work on a 26-acre cacao farm, he jumped on the opportunity. It seemed like it could help him find clarity about how to progress as a business owner and he welcomed the chance to return to a place he'd already lived and grown to love.
At the time, he was uncertain of how to continue to grow his succeeding business in a sustainable way, one that would balance two lifestyles: small, focused cultivation and production in an urban environment. Aaron's experience working the land in Hawaii – while living in a tiny treehouse – shaped his vision for Treehouse Chocolate.
With his previous chocolate business, he sourced cacao from various locations and entities. Now, Aaron handcrafts his drinking chocolate in a 100-square-foot kitchen using organic cacao that is sourced from Oro Verde, an independent farmer owned cooperative in Peru.
“In the end, my goal was to find one broker and one very small region of one country. That way, you can develop relationships with farmers, with the region, and you can get to know that cacao and that specific flavor profile,” Aaron said.
Also, by focusing his purchases on one farming cooperative, he’s able to more significantly impact the local community and economy.
Treehouse premium European-style drinking chocolates come in four mouth-water flavors: camp coffee mocha, cherrywood with sea salt, original dark chocolate, and coconut-hinted nectar. They’re made with 72% cacao and forgo unhealthy substitutes in favor of real, simple ingredients.
Aaron has lived in several countries, including 18 years spent in Singapore and a long stint in Oregon studying agriculture. He loves adventure, and only hesitated slightly, before deciding to sail a boat through pirate territory in the Celebes Sea.
These experiences have made him an advocate of transparent, good-for-all food sourcing.
The cacao tree – easily identified by its shiny purple-colored fruit pods that “look like deflated footballs” – is an unusual crop because it can’t handle direct sunlight. It’s an understory crop that needs the shade of the jungle canopy.
“Basically, by preserving or supporting small farms in Central America, you’re by default preserving the jungle. Certain crops support good community and are good for the land. It’s really great to find those crops and incorporate them into your business,” Aaron said.